The Chimes (1844)

The Chimes aroused public interest and anticipation. Five different stage productions of the book were running within weeks of publication and nearly 20,000 copies were sold in the first three months. It had a high media profile, and was widely reviewed and discussed. Critical opinion was divided; those sympathetic to its social and political message liked the book, but others thought it dangerously radical.”


Feel free to read along with the posts or speed ahead. It doesn’t take long to finish. If you create a post about the novella, I will list the links to my next post. For this post, I created links to each person who commented, along with a portion of their comment.

These pictures are free to copy by downloading a copy from the Internet Archive.

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at You can also download a copy with illustrations from Internet Archive.

The Characters

Trotty Veck

In the first quarter, we meet the main characters.

List of all of Dickens characters

  • Trotty (Tolby) Veck – poor elderly “ticket-porter” or casual messenger
  • Meg Veck- Trotty’s 21-year-old kind-hearted daughter
  • Richard – Meg’s fiancé
  • Will Fern – vagrant
  • Lilian – vagrant’s niece
  • Sir Joseph Bowley, ostentatious MP (Member of Parliament)
  • Mrs. Anne Chickenstalker, the local shopkeeper
  • Alderman Cute, a Justice of the Peace – “Alderman Cute is a parody of Sir Peter Laurie, a Middlesex magistrate, alderman, and former Lord Mayor of London, known for his determination to “put down” the lower classes and their antisocial behavior.[7] His remarks on the 1844 Mary Furley case have been cited as one inspiration to Dickens to write The Chimes.”
  • Mr. Filer, a political economist in the Utilitarian mold

The Setting

The Chimes is the second of Dickens’s five Christmas Books and is divided into four parts which are called “quarters.” The divisions tie the theme and the title by referencing the chimes of a striking clock. During his travels, Dickens heard the Chimes of Genoa. They inspired the theme, title, and imagery in this novella. The chimes are old bells in the church on whose steps Trotty Veck plies his trade (a messenger) and eats his famous meal of tripe.

The Plot

found on the Internet Archive

Trotty Veck, the story’s protagonist, is a working-class man who comes to believe that he is worthless. He is so downtrodden that he believes that working-class people (like himself) are worthless and wicked by nature. Even though he loved her dearly and wanted to see her happy, he had mixed emotions about her upcoming marriage the next day.

As Trotty was enjoying the dinner Meg brought him, Alderman Cute arrived and spoke to both his daughter and her fiancé to persuade them not to marry. It seemed that he convinced them that because of their poverty, they would face certain disasters if they married. In addition to being intrusive and obnoxious to the two lovers, he ate Trotty’s last bites of tripe and made him feel lucky to get rid of it.

After meeting the Alderman and picking up a message from MP, Sir Joseph Bowley, Trotty encounters Will Fern, a poor countryman, and his orphaned niece, Lilian. They are looking for a friend of Lilian’s mother who lived in London.

In addition, Fern has been accused of vagrancy and wants to visit Cute to set matters straight. Trotty has some inside knowledge as a messenger from a conversation overheard at Bowley’s house. Trotty warned Fern that Cute plans to have him arrested and imprisoned. He takes the pair home with him, and he and Meg share their meager food and poor lodging with the visitors.

After the others have gone to bed, Trotty stays up with a newspaper and is reinforced in his belief that the poor are naturally wicked by reading about a mother who has drowned herself and her baby.

The incident that inspired Dickens refers to “Mary Furley, a destitute young woman sentenced to death in 1844 for infanticide after her desperation not to return to the workhouse led to a suicide attempt in which her child drowned.[5]” Wikipedia

In the night, Trotty imagines that the bells call him. Arriving at the church, he finds the tower door unlocked and climbs to the bell chamber, where he discovers the spirits of the bells and their goblin attendants, who reprimand him for losing faith in man’s ability to improve.

The Goblins convince him that he fell from the tower during his climb and is now dead, and Meg’s subsequent life must now be an object lesson for him: he must “learn from the creature nearest to [his] heart” that people aren’t automatically wicked just because they are poor.

After watching her life deteriorate over her lifetime, he sees that she is going to kill her own child. He realizes that what caused her to do that was not her fault but the pressures of life squeezing her until she had nowhere to turn.

As he tried to stop her, he woke from his nightmare. His daughter was back together with her fiancé. The wedding was about to happen, and Trotty couldn’t have been happier.

One unanswered question for me was why Mrs. Chickenstalker paled when she saw Lilian. I assumed that was that she was the unnamed friend that Will Fern sought to find in the first quarter of the book.


I originally gave this novella a three-star rating because I struggled to follow the goblin section. However, in rereading and working through all the notes, I would raise the rating slightly. It’s not a bad read, but I didn’t like it as much as I did Dicken’s longer works.

Comments on Part Three of The Battle of Life

  • 100 Country Trek – “Thanks Marsha…the Dixkens Challenge.. hummm Anita”
  • Debs World – “It’s so interesting to see what you’ve been reading Marsha. I just found a great book, Estella, written by Kathy George which is Estella’s (from Great Expectations) side of the story and although the ending is different to both of those written by Dickens, it made for a great read. The author is a huge Dickens fan and mentions a few of his other books in this one. Something a bit different anyway!”
  • Keep It Alive – “I’m still not finding time to write a review. After April challenge ends, I’ll do it. 🤞🏼
  • Priorhouse Blog – I enjoyed this post and good idea to post in parts – also – connecting with what is on your bookshelf challenge is fun!
  • Roberta Writes – “I really liked The Chimes, it was very tragic in the second half. Thank goodness it could all be put right.”
  • Uniquely Fit – “Good job on this Marsha!❣️”

Your Posts


The Challenge

The hosts are Trent, Yvette, and me.

  • Year One: 2021 –  Little Dorrit
  • Year Two: 2022 –  Bleak House
  • Year Three: 2023 – One of the Five Novellas of Your Choice 

Get to Know Charles Dickens

Learn more about Charles Dickens from the Charles Dicken’s Museum

This Year’s Invitation:

  • For the 2023 #DickensChallenge we invite you to read ANY ONE of Dickens’ five novellas between February 7th and June 9th, 2023 (the dates for the challenge align with Dickens’ date of birth and date of death). Then share about your reading in a post or via comments on one or all of the host blogs. 
  • Use this hashtag: #Dickenschallenge if you link a post so we don’t miss you.
  • We will be making a master page with info – coming soon 
  • Readers can find a list of Dickens’s works here
  • Readers can access some of Dickens’s works on Project Gutenberg here.

Don’t forget!

You can also link to What’s on Your Bookshelf for even more interactions. Remember that there are four places to link for that challenge.

I also like to list what I’m reading each week to Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share and read about what others are doing as well.

Happy Reading!

20 responses to “#DickensChallenge Novella #2 – The Chimes”

  1. robertawrites235681907 Avatar

    Hi Marsha, it is so interesting how we are all different in our reading tastes. I like this one very much and think about it quite a lot too. A lovely write up about this fascinating story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marsha Avatar

      Thank you Roberta. You have such a positive outlook on life, it doesn’t surprise me that you are less negative in your report on the story! It was a little like Scrooge, in that he saw things differently after his contact with an alternate reality. That’s also something like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sometimes it takes a push from the supernatural to get us to recognize how wonderful life is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. robertawrites235681907 Avatar

        Thank you, Marsha. Life is a series of highs and lows so I always try to hold on to positives to make the lower times easier to bear. I will get my review of The Battle of Life done for next week.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Marsha Avatar

          No hurry, my friend. You have until June!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Cindy Georgakas Avatar

    Impressive Marsha! 👏


    1. Marsha Avatar

      Aww, you’re too kind!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cindy Georgakas Avatar

        Absolutely 👍🏾

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sadje Avatar

        It’s done.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Marsha Avatar

          Yay! You did a great job, Sadje. You are a fabulous writer and thinker. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sadje Avatar

            Thank you my friend. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read this story. One always learns.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Marsha Avatar

            One does, and we both enjoy the process, don’t we?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Sadje Avatar

            Oh yes, definitely. 😍

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Sadje Avatar

    Thanks for reminding me Marsha. I have no excuse to not write it now 🤣😂😅


    1. Marsha Avatar

      LOL I’m a nag, now, am I not?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje Avatar

        Nopes, I should have remembered 😅

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Marsha Avatar

          LOL, You’re busy!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sadje Avatar

            I am, but I’ve started a draft post and that way I’ll remember


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